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Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Delhi air quality to deteriorate in the next three days

Forecast shows gradual increase in particulate matter 2.5 levels, partly due to fall in minimum temperature and lighter wind speeds

New Delhi: Air pollution in Delhi, which will implement the odd-even road rationing plan to curb emissions starting 1 January, is expected to rise over the next few days because of falling temperatures.

The air quality forecast has, however, not taken into account a possible reduction in vehicular emissions because of the odd-even experiment, according to System of Air and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the pollution monitoring agency under the ministry of earth sciences.

The SAFAR forecast for the period 2-5 January shows a gradual increase in the levels of particulate matter (PM) 2.5, the tiny particles present in the air that affect the human respiratory system and heart.

This is expected to happen partly because of the fall in minimum temperature and lighter wind speeds of 8-10 km per hour, according to the agency.

On Thursday, PM 2.5 levels were at 179 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air). That is expected to rise to 201 μg/m3 by 3 January. These levels of PM 2.5 are categorized as “very poor" and are particularly harmful as they can lodge themselves in the lungs and even enter the blood stream.

Air quality conditions in Delhi have been oscillating between poor and severely poor and leading to a surge in respiratory and other diseases. From 1 to 15 January, private cars with licence plates ending in odd numbers will be allowed to ply on odd dates, and the ones with licence plates ending in even numbers will be allowed to ply on even dates. The rule will apply from 8am to 8pm.

Air quality levels as of 5:30pm on Thursday, according to SAFAR, were ‘very poor’ with the air quality index (AQI) recorded at 337. The AQI is prepared by taking into account indicators monitored at about 3 metres height from the ground and pollutants monitored include PM 2.5, PM 10, ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, methane, benzene and mercury.

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